Archive for May, 2010

Featured Contributor: Mediterranean Mushroom Salad Croissants from Foodie Tots

This is recipe marks our first contribution from Colleen of the family food blog,  Foodie Tots.  We love her creative, healthy take on the types of salads that are usually crammed full not so healthy additives. Welcome to the team, Colleen!

When I think about mushrooms, the first recipes that come to mind are usually heavier comfort dishes: hearty soups, creamy risotto, or rich pastas. With Memorial Day just around the corner, ushering in the summer picnic season, I thought I’d create a lighter dish. This Mediterranean-inspired, family-friendly mushroom salad is a hearty filling for sandwiches, perfect for a meal on the go.

I tried to include the same elements that make a good chicken salad: something sweet, something crunchy, and no mayo (personal preference). In this recipe, sundried tomatoes lend a sweet burst of flavor and will tide you over until tomatoes are in season later in the summer. (The tomatoes also add visual appeal for kids, who are often tempted by more colorful foods.)  Walnuts add the critical crunch, and you could up the protein content with some fresh mozzarella, too.

And should your picnic get rained out, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re still getting Vitamin D from the mushrooms.

When cooking mushrooms, use a large pan and try to keep them in a single layer. For this recipe, you may need to cook them in two batches.

Stir only once or twice, and cook until mushrooms are browned and just tender.

Mediterranean Mushroom Salad Croissants
Makes filling for 4-6 sandwiches

For the salad:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound cremini mushrooms
1 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
6-8 leaves fresh basil

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

For the sandwiches:
4 large croissants
1 cup baby spinach

1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium low heat.

2.  Clean the mushrooms gently with a damp paper towel. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut halves into quarters. Smaller mushrooms can simply be quartered; you want pieces about 1/4-inch thick.

3.  Cook the mushrooms until browned and tender, about 10 minutes, stirring only once or twice. You may want to cook them in two batches, as they’ll brown better in a single layer.

4. While the mushrooms cook, coarsely chop sundried tomatoes, walnuts and basil. Place in a mixing bowl.

5.  Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a separate small bowl, set aside.

6. Combine cooked mushrooms with the tomato, walnut and basil mixture. Add dressing and toss gently to combine. Let rest 10 minutes for flavors to meld.

7. To assemble sandwiches, slice croissants in half. Arrange a handful of spinach leaves on bottom half, then top with a generous helping of mushroom salad. Place second half of croissant on top, slice in half, and wrap up to go. Enjoy!

Editor’s Note: This recipe is vegan, simply change the suggested croissant service for a favorite vegan bread or a bed of mixed greens.

Weekly Links: Mushroom News from Around the Web

How to get more vitamin D The Tampa Tribune interviews Dr. Holick, and offers solutions for getting enough vitamin D each day. Our favorite recommendation of course is to eat naturally D-rich foods, like mushrooms! Take this quiz to see if you’re getting enough vitamin D. Check out Dr. Holick’s recent interviews with Reuters and Danbury News Times, too.

Healthy Snack Ideas # 4: Savory Mushroom Bruschetta Gather.com shares a recipe for mushroom bruscetta, one that takes little time and doesn’t add to the waistline! This delectable afternoon delight is the perfect 3 o’clock pick-me-up as mushrooms are chocked full of B vitamins, which help your body convert food to energy.

Get your vitamin D Cynthia Sass, RD, was interviewed for an ABC News Now segment about vitamin D to highlight foods that consumers can add to their diet in order to get an adequate daily intake of this vital nutrient. Fish, eggs and mushrooms are the three natural food sources of D discussed and mushrooms are further noted as the only plant source of vitamin D. See ‘shrooms get some recognition on WebMD’s vitamin D slideshow as well.

Slim Down Secrets: Feel full, stay slim with 5 easy dinners We can’t believe that bikini season is already around the corner. If you’re having a minor meltdown (you sure are NOT the only one), don’t stress because KNXV-TV recommends five simple dinners that will keep you slim and satisfied. We’re happy to find that portabella mushroom burgers make this short, coveted list.

Forest Mushrooms feeds growing need for fungi The specialty mushroom market has really mushroomed (pardon the pun) in recent years, which can be attributed to the maturation of America’s palate, and the growing interest in Asian cuisine. Not only are the flavors of specialty mushrooms remarkable, but so are their health benefits. Mushrooms give recipes a flavor boost alongside a powerful punch of nutrients. Mushrooms are high in fiber; low in carbs and fat; have more protein than most produce; and double as an umami-rich meat substitute. Madison.com further dishes on the nutrients in specialty mushrooms here.

Your Questions Answered: Keri Glassman Talks "Superfoods" and Nutrient Preservation

Today we are thrilled to have author and nutrition expert Keri Glassman answer nutrition questions submitted by our amazing fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter. Fresh off the release of her new book, The O2 Diet, Keri dishes with us on nutrition, superfoods and her tips for maintaining a healthy diet. And we can’t help but notice she’s a big fan of mushrooms. We had some really excellent questions come through- too many for one post.  Keep an eye out for Part II next week!

Q: It feels like everyone is talking about “superfoods.” What are some examples, and what makes them special? Stephanie (Los Angeles, CA)

A: I like to think of superfoods as nutrient-rich foods that provide incredible health benefits and should be included in a balanced diet. Personally, I focus on those that are high in antioxidants. When you consume nutrient-rich foods, you feel good, you look better, and as a result, you are more likely to live a healthier lifestyle.

When I hit the grocery store, the following must-have foods are always in my shopping cart:

  • Mushrooms are a best-kept secret to make any diet possible thanks to their flavor, value, nutrition and versatility. I toss a handful into whatever I’m cooking; they are low in fat and calories, but will fill you up. Mushrooms are also the only source of vitamin D in the produce section
  • Olive oil, avocados and nuts are a great way to add healthy fat into your diet.
  • Berries! On their own, in a smoothie, for a snack or dessert – you can’t go wrong.
  • Spices go a long way when you’re cooking. They add flavor without adding calories, and can help you feel more satisfied as a result. Chile pepper, cinnamon, cumin, rosemary – go nuts and reap the benefits, they’re usually heart healthy and full of antioxidants!
  • Green tea is always at the top of my list. It’s rich in antioxidants called catechins, which stimulate the body to burn calories and decrease body fat.

Q: I’m always afraid that I’m cooking the nutrients out of my mushrooms. What is the best way to preserve the nutrients in veggies when I’m cooking? Do mushrooms lose their nutritional value when dried? — Linda (San Jose, CA) & Kathi (Kennett Square, PA)

A: Before you step into the kitchen, check out some easy tips on how to prepare mushrooms to ensure you’re cooking them properly. When it comes to drying foods, this process usually increases the nutrient count because by removing water you increase the concentration of other nutrients per gram. So when considering the same volume of fresh or dried mushrooms, the dried mushrooms will have more nutrients than their raw counterparts because the water weight has been removed.

Wordless Wednesday: Smitten Kitchen's Mushroom Crepe Cake

Today’s Wordless Wednesday honors go to the divine Deb of Smitten Kitchen for her practical magic. If you love one mushroom crepe (everyone is nodding, yes?), why not stack them up for a real party?  A Mushroom Crepe Cake- now why didn’t we think of that?

That’s already too many words for “Wordless Wednesday- head on over to the original post for more beautiful shots and, most importantly, the recipe!

Featured Contributor: Yaki Shiitake from La Fuji Mama

Editor’s Note: Rachael is the inventive home chef behind La Fuji Mama. Now a mother of two, many of her dishes take inspiration from the time she spent living in Japan. While she’s no stranger to mushrooms (the Japanese diet are rich with them), this is her first post for the Mushroom Channel. Check out her recipe below but make the jump over to her main site when you’re done!

Yakitori, a dish of chicken threaded on skewers and cooked over a charcoal fire, is one of those foods that I start to crave when the weather turns sunny and warm. With all the beautiful weather we’ve been having, I decided it was time to break out the bamboo skewers and make some. Instead of making the traditional chicken skewers, I used fresh shiitake mushrooms and sliced scallions. Shiitake mushrooms, a native fungi of Japan, have a rich meaty and slightly smokey flavor. These mushrooms are fat free and a great source of protein, iron, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Grilling them brings out their wonderful meaty flavor. You’ll find you won’t miss the chicken!

This is also a great way to introduce kids to shiitake mushrooms. I’ve found that kids are more receptive to anything served on a stick. Case in point—when my three year old saw we were making yakitori, she got very excited and told me, “I want some!” She didn’t even know what we were putting on those skewers!

Yakitori, a dish of chicken threaded on skewers and cooked over a charcoal fire, is one of those foods that I start to crave when the weather turns sunny and warm. With all the beautiful weather we’ve been having, I decided it was time to break out the bamboo skewers and make some. Instead of making the traditional chicken skewers, I used fresh shiitake mushrooms and sliced scallions. Shiitake mushrooms, a native fungi of Japan, have a rich meaty and slightly smokey flavor. These mushrooms are fat free and a great source of protein, iron, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Grilling them brings out their wonderful meaty flavor. You’ll find you won’t miss the chicken!

When you are buying shiitake mushrooms, look for mushrooms that are plump, firm, and clean, and avoid any that have wet slimy spots on them or are wrinkled. They can be stored in the refrigerator in a loosely closed paper bag for about a week until you are ready to use them. Making the skewers is easy. You simple clean the mushrooms and discard their stems, and wash and cut the scallions into pieces. Then you thread the mushrooms and scallions onto the skewers. Make sure to soak your bamboo skewers beforehand so that they do not burn. Fresh shiitake mushrooms mushrooms are soft, so do not squeeze or push too hard. If you are having difficulty pushing the skewer through a mushroom, gently rotate the skewer as you are trying to push it through.

When you have finished putting the skewers together, you brush them with a tiny bit of vegetable oil and then set them on a preheated grill, with the mushrooms facing gill side up. You can also cook these skewers under the broiler. If you do this, make sure you start by cooking the skewers gill side down.

When the skewers have finished cooking and you are ready to serve them, brush them with a bit of tare (a slightly sweet and savory Japanese basting sauce) and serve them. They make a fabulous appetizer or side dish for a Spring or Summertime menu.

Yaki Shiitake (Shiitake & Scallion Yakitori)

Makes 8 skewers

For the tare (basting sauce):
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup mirin
¼ granulated sugar

For the skewers:
16 large fresh shiitake mushrooms, preferably donko
1 bunch scallions
Vegetable oil

1. Make the tare: Put the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar into a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat. When the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking over low heat for 20 minutes. Skim any scum off the surface as the sauce is cooking. Set aside.

2. Make the skewers: Soak the bamboo skewers in water for 20 minutes. Preheat the grill. Clean the mushrooms with a slightly damp paper towel or cotton cloth, then cut away and discard the stems. Cut the firm white and whitish green parts of the scallions into 1 ¾ inch lengths.

3. Thread two mushrooms (lengthwise through the mushroom caps) and two pieces of scallion onto each skewer, alternating between the mushrooms and scallion pieces. Brush the mushrooms and scallions with a light layer of vegetable oil.

4. Place the skewers on the grill, with mushrooms facing gill side up. Cook the skewers until the tops of the mushroom caps are dry. Turn the skewers over (mushrooms gill side down), and cook them until the insides become wet with the mushrooms’ own juice. Turn the skewers over (mushrooms gill side up) one more time and cook for about 1 or 2 minutes more until the mushrooms and scallions are completely cooked through.

5. Remove the skewers from the grill, and with a pastry brush, baste them with the tare. Arrange the skewers on a large plate and serve.
Yakitori, a dish of chicken threaded on skewers and cooked over a charcoal fire, is one of those foods that I start to crave when the weather turns sunny and warm. With all the beautiful weather we’ve been having, I decided it was time to break out the bamboo skewers and make some. Instead of making the traditional chicken skewers, I used fresh shiitake mushrooms and sliced scallions. Shiitake mushrooms, a native fungi of Japan, have a rich meaty and slightly smokey flavor. These mushrooms are fat free and a great source of protein, iron, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Grilling them brings out their wonderful meaty flavor. You’ll find you won’t miss the chicken!